“A long time ago in a Galaxy far, far away” said the tagline for the Star Wars franchise when it was launched 36 years ago. If it were today, people would probably think this to be a teaser ad for some mind-boggling feature in an upcoming model of a smartphone being readied for launch in some unreachable secret facility which would probably look like the lair of a James Bond villain. It probably would, as Samsung unveils the latest (Galaxy S4) and now S5, its string of never-ending plasticky abominations of Galaxys.
However advanced smartphones have become today (they can even analyze fart smells these days! Beat that!), one significant area is still plagued a drastic drought of innovation, the naming department. It which seems to be populated by exactly one person who hasn’t been given a pay hike in a decade, whose only job seems to be to append numerals and letters to the end of a fantastic-sounding word to denote a new release. The best example here is of course Samsung, who does not seem to be able to think beyond huge astronomical clusters of billions of Stars clustered together stretching for millions of light years across.
The Great Galactic Confusion
Samsung’s Galaxy fixation is so entrenched that they have somehow managed to squeeze “Galaxy” into the name of every device with a screen. This resulted in every single model right from phones to tabs to cameras being named a “Galaxy”, making it is humanly impossible for anyone to recall or even make any sense of the plethora of Galaxies that Samsung has come out with. Galaxy S, Galaxy S Duos, Galaxy S Advance. Galaxy Y, Galaxy Y Plus, Galaxy Y Duos. Galaxy Pocket, Plus, Beam, Music, Fit, Fame, Express, Grand and all of their innumerable variations thereof. No one really knows what the difference between all these are. Also, the Tabs and Notes and Cameras and whatnot. If you put all these models end-to-end, they would probably stretch beyond the realms of the known Universe. This has also given rise to jokes like
Samsung has more Galaxies than the Entire Universe does!
Samsung probably thought that since they named their product “Galaxy”, they need to release as many Galaxy phones as much there are Galaxies in the Universe. These devices are also ridiculously overpriced, leading one to believe the real reason behind Samsung naming their phones so to be:
45000 for the Samsung Galaxy S4? Now I know why they named it Galaxy. It has a Black Hole in its center that sucks your money in.
— vadakkus (@vadakkus) March 15, 2013
However, the lesser known fact is why Samsung releases their “flagship” Galaxy phones serially with an S prefix: Samsung Galaxy S1, S2, S3, S4… looks familiar? The Indian Railways is a humongous, wondrous organization which seems to run on magic, drawing its energy from all the chaos around in India. The good people at Samsung must’ve been so taken by the Railways that they decided to name their phones after Sleeper Coaches! Through this gesture, Samsung also reiterates its commitment the Aam Aadmi who is the one traveling in Sleeper Coaches. It is another matter altogether that some of these phones will cost your left kidney. As the knowledgeable @nauphal suggested, their plan must be to release Galaxy phones upto S11 and S12, by the time which they will be as big as mats on which people can literally sleep upon, thereby doing justice to their names. I guess then Samsung will go ahead and launch Galaxy B1, Galaxy B2, Galaxy A1 etc, and air-condition them. How cool would that be? Meanwhile, the Galaxy jokes roll on:
Samsung Galaxy phones are like Maruti cars. Nothing exciting and everyone seems to have one.
Opinions are like Samsung Galaxy phones. There are way too many to make any sense of.
Oxford should add another entry to their dictionary of collective nouns:
A Group of Samsung Galaxy Phones is called a Universe.
My dream is to buy a Samsung Galaxy IRCTC.
— Pritam Sharma (@VanDiablo) March 18, 2013
Meanwhile on the other side of the Korean Sea, Samsung’s Japanese neighbors Sony are running out of alphabets, having reached the end of the line with the release of the Xperia Z after the Xperia J, P, T, G, E, U, S, V, X and so on. As of now, Sony seems to be content in filling the gaps with Letters they haven’t used yet, as shows the announcement about the release of the Xperia L. Sony could very well take a leaf out of the Indian Motor Vehicles’ department procedures of vehicle registration and start with AA after they are done with all the 26 alphabets. On the other hand, “Xperia” seems to be some really cool Latin word, a language heard only when the time comes to electing a new Pope. But the dudes who really need some schooling about the fact that there are infinite numbers, including decimals and even imaginary numbers is HTC, who probably think that numerals other than “One” do not exist. HTC One, HTC One+, HTC One V, HTC X One… The truly spectacular event in the mobile industry yet will come the day when HTC releases the HTC Two.
Nokiafication and Applification
During the good old Nokia-times the entire market was ruled Nokia phones with 4 digit numbers for model names. 3310, 7530, 7560, 6350, etc etc. In fact, Nokia’s naming strategy was simple. Take any phone, tweak the UI a bit, add or remove a couple of features, change the cover and keypad, add 1000 bucks to the price, give it a new number and boom! New Phone! This system was not unlike the Galaxy-ism we see today. No one really knew how many models Nokia had and what all these numbers meant. Then came Apple, with their single category-single product strategy, accompanied by probably the simplest naming convention ever. iPhone 2, 3, 4, 5.
Once these naming scheme followed by Nokia and Apple fell in love. As they were from vastly diverse social and economical backgrounds and of course from different castes, they knew that their love would never bear fruit, not even if Dr.Joseph Vijay himself were to intervene. Thinking practically, they decided to have a secret, highly charged fling instead of getting honor-killed. A new naming scheme arose as a result of this fling, incorporating the best of both Nokia and Apple. And highly successfully adopted by Samsung and others today. You have the Galaxy (multi) product line (Like the i-Line) with an endless number of iterations (like the Nokias). This branding strategy is now being aped by all and sundry now, including Nokia with their Lumias. Good strategy though.
Dare to Think Beyond Galaxies.
There has been immense innovation and wonder going on in the World of smartphones. Once upon a time, computers used to be so big that they occupied an entire room. But looking at how the size mobile phones keep on increasing today, we seem to be going back in the opposite direction. Pretty soon we will have phones that will fill a room and need a pickup truck to be carried around. The things are so big that you need two hands to operate them and in time evolution will give Homosapiens an additional arm or two to carry out mundane tasks that do not involve holding a smartphone. By that time, maybe Samsung should dare to think beyond Galaxies and also get started with Pulsars (sorry, Bajaj), Quasars, Nebulae, Black Holes etc. Or even better, Samsung should sponsor a new Galaxy and just name it “Samsung Galaxy”. But on a serious note, all these overload of Galaxies giving people serious Brand Fatigue and even Smartphone fatigue.